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Amateurs aim to set professional standards in reworking of hit show.

FAME costs - but only £11 at the Brunton Theatre. Yes, that favourite musical of the big and small screen, is hitting the stage in Musselburgh tonight and while it's unlikely you'll know any of the names involved, you may well remember them afterwards.

The cast is packed with amateur talent from across Lothian, brought together by the drama students of Queen Margaret University College after they held open auditions. Since January they've been put through their paces and now they're to be let loose on a main theatre stage.

It sounds like it could be a recipe for disaster, but a show which contains a feel-good familiar song like Fame and, of course, a great deal of enthusiasm, it seems unlikely that the audience will be able to do anything except enjoy themselves.

However, don't go along expecting a carbon copy of the 1980 film or the popular 70s television series, Fame The Musical is different. The names are different, though the characters are similar, but the only song from the film is the Irene Cara hit - the rest were written specifically for the show.

It has been a couple of years since Fame The Musical was performed in the Lothian region, the last time was at the Playhouse and it starred Barbara Dickson and former Hear'say singer Noel Sullivan. But Kate Hall, musical director of Blue Parrot Productions who are producing the Brunton show, believes, their version will be just as professional. And the 20-year-old drama student is confident they will have people dancing in the aisles.

"It's a very high-energy score, so even if people don't recognise the songs they will definitely want to dance," she says. "We're very excited at the prospect of performing on a stage such as the Brunton's and we think the show will be a real success.

"There are 18 members of cast and crew plus a ten-piece band, so there's been a lot involved in pulling it all together. It's a completely amateur production and for a lot of them it will be their first time on such a big stage, but we do believe we found a lot of talented people so the audiences won't be disappointed."

The musical is set during the last years of New York City's celebrated High School for the Performing Arts on 46th Street, and is a bittersweet but ultimately inspiring story of a diverse group of students as they commit to four years of gruelling artistic and academic work.

The show also explores the issues that confront many young people today: prejudice, identity, self-worth, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and perseverance. Kate adds: "We wanted to do something that would challenge all of us and give us a lot of experience, but also something people knew so it would sell. And so far it's doing all of that."

Fame, The Musical, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, tonight to Saturday, 7.30pm (Sat matinee 2.30), £11 (£8.50), matinee £9, 0131- 665 2240. May not be suitable for under 14s

THAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT: Barbara Dickson and the cast of the last Fame performance at the Edinburgh Playhouse.


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